01/15/2003 1:00AM

Orseno's new life goes on


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The transition is nearly complete for Joe Orseno. With only one horse remaining in his Gulfstream Park stable for longtime client Frank Stronach, Orseno essentially is starting over in an outstanding training career that spans more than 25 years.

"We had a really great run," Orseno said recently. "But my contract with Mr. Stronach is up, and all I've got left for him is Krieger," the runner-up in the Jan. 4 Appleton Handicap.

While Orseno surely will miss the income and limelight that come with training horses for a powerhouse such as Stronach Stables, he still can say that he had more success with Stronach than anyone since the temperamental owner began hiring and firing North American trainers some four decades ago.

Tap to Music, a Grade 1 winner in 1998, was the first top horse that Orseno trained for Stronach. Then came a slew of important wins, particularly in 2000, when Red Bullet won the Preakness; Perfect Sting and Macho Uno won Breeders' Cup races; and the stable earnings were more than $6.6 million. Other major winners included Golden Missile, Collect the Cash, and Black Cash.

But now, with Stronach once again having dispersed his active runners among other trainers, including Malcolm Pierce in Florida, Orseno essentially is back to square one.

"I've got some horses for Dogwood Stable and Laura and Gene Melnyk," said Orseno. "I went public again last summer. I've got about 17 horses back here, and hopefully we'll start winning races again."

Orseno, 47, will be looking to add to his career total of more than 2,000 victories when he saddles Harts Gap for the Melnyks in the Friday feature at Gulfstream. Harts Gap is one of 10 fillies entered in the ninth of 10 races, a $34,000, first-level allowance at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Harts Gap, a Saint Ballado filly who finished third in a recent five-furlong tune-up at Calder, is one of a handful of logical contenders, along with Bubbles Cachet, Bluebird Day, and the uncoupled Jonathan Sheppard pair of Haley's Classic and Snowrun.

* Earlier Friday, A New Twist makes her first start since July when facing five other fillies and mares in the fourth race, a $38,000, third-level allowance sprint. A New Twist, a 4-year-old Storm Cat filly trained by John Kimmel, won the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream last January. Pat Day has the mount Friday.

A guaranteed pick six pool of $25,000 is offered every Friday at Gulfstream.

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